For reasons we don't quite understand, some people continue to resist carrying around a PDA. What's the problem? PDAs are handy and getting cheaper all the time. To further convince you, here are our main reasons why you need to tote one:
- Planning your social life
While we're Pocket PC converts, there's one thing that Palm owners can still lord over us: They have Vindigo and we don't. For the uninitiated, Vindigo is arguably the best handheld application on the market--at least if you live in a major city and like to eat out a lot. In addition to free Zagat restaurant listings, Vindigo has listings for bars, movie theaters, shops, and more. Plus, it even helps you find your way with walking directions. But don't fret, Pocket PC users: you can expect a version by fall
- Staying in touch
Spending serious bucks to make your PDA fully wireless-enhanced can make sense, as long as your expectations are reasonable. If you're looking to check a sports score or get a stock quote, it's fine. But if you're looking to do some serious Web browsing, you'll only be disappointed. We've also become fans of wireless instant messaging, and both Yahoo and AOL have done good job in developing handheld versions of their clients. If you're looking for a solid wireless service provider, Omnisky remains king of both the Palm and Pocket PC markets.
If you don't want to spend the money on a wireless ISP (not to mention the additional hardware, which can run a couple of hundred bucks), you can still use AvantGo--as well as Microsoft's Mobile Channels feature--to automatically download content from your favorite sites (including ZDNet) so you can read it wherever, and whenever, you want.
- Playing around
If you've ever sat next to some geek playing golf on a handheld on a New York-to-San Francisco flight, there's a reasonably good chance it was one of us. Currently, our favorite golf game is ZioGolf 2, which is entertaining enough that we'll forgive several annoying flaws (including the fact that it lets us hit a driver 300 yards out of a fairway bunker). Click here to download it from ZDNet Downloads.
While clearly handheld games aren't going to compete with their console and PC brethren, there are still plenty of excellent options when you need to give your brain a break. Some folks have even come up with Atari 2600 and ColecoVision emulators for the Pocket PC, so you can play all of your old favorites (the individual game files are called ROMs). There are numerous sites that post the code to hundreds of ROMs--from Donkey Kong to Pitfall--though keep in mind that legally, you're supposed to own any cartridges that you've loaded onto your handheld. You can do a search for ROMs on your favorite search engine to find more games than you should ever have time to play. You can also visit ZDNet Downloads for other great Pocket PC and PalmOS games.
- Getting tuned up
The PDA has now become a viable alternative to a portable CD or MP3 player. Pocket PCs were the first to add these capabilities, and you can now get Windows Media Player 7.1, which includes support for both streaming and local content in the latest Windows Media audio and video formats. But there are now many options for the Palm faithful. The Sony CLIE PEG-N710C is a Palm-based organizer with digital audio capabilities built in and a Memory Stick for storage. In addition, if you have a Handspring Visor, you can get a Springboard module such as the InnoGear MiniJam or SoundsGood Audio Player that include both audio player capabilities and storage.
- Safety Valve
Though PDA makers don't talk much about this, one of the side benefits of carrying a handheld is that, thanks to synchronization, your most critical data--contacts, appointments, tasks, and the other miscellaneous data you can't do without--is all stored safely in a second device. That means if your system ever goes belly up or if you just need to transfer data to a new PC, you simply synchronize with the new machine and you're good to go. There are even backups for your backup using popular utilities such as Blue Nomad's BackupBuddy.